Thomas Tuchel’s first match in charge of Chelsea ended goalless as the Blues drew with Wolverhampton Wanderers at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday evening.
The best chances of the game arguably fell to the hosts, with Ben Chilwell and Kai Havertz spurning great opportunities for the home side. Wolves did threaten in the second-half though, with Pedro Neto going closest and chipping an effort off of the crossbar. A goal was not forthcoming for either side though as the points were shared in West London.
Here are three things we learned from Stamford Bridge:
Tuchel plumps for the old guard
Even before kick-off, it was clear that new Chelsea boss Tuchel intends to utilise his more experienced players at Stamford Bridge. The likes of Olivier Giroud, Cesar Azpilicueta and Jorginho were all drafted into the starting line-up in place of Blues academy products Tammy Abraham, Reece James and Mason Mount.
It all meant that the average age of the Chelsea starting lineup jumped up dramatically. Frank Lampard’s final XI in charge of the Blues had an average of of 24.5, with Tuchel’s first starting line-up possessing an average age of 27.5, exactly three years older.
Whether that is a sign of the German’s intentions to at first call on experience to get Chelsea out of their rut remains to be seen but considering the result against Wolves, it may not serve him all to well.
Title aspirations over?
Even with their new boss at the helm in West London, it’s difficult to envisage Chelsea realistically being able to challenge for the Premier League crown between now and the end of the season. This draw against Wolves saw them fall 11 points behind current table toppers Manchester City, with Pep Guardiola’s men still holding a game in hand.
As a matter of fact, it could even be a battle for the Blues to earn a UEFA Champions League place at it stands. Ahead of Thursday’s Premier League matches, Chelsea are five points off of the top four but the teams above them – Everton, Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool – all hold games in hand, too. The gap could therefore be as wide as seven points once all of those games are played.
Chelsea can currently be backed at odds of 150/1 with Betfair to win the 2020/21 Premier League title, whilst they sit at 11/4 to earn a place in the top four. It goes without saying then that Tuchel really needs to get the team playing and earning wins if they want to achieve their objectives this season.
Wolves finally earn clean sheet
Coming into the match, Nuno Espirito Santo’s men had not managed to earn a clean sheet since a 2-0 win against Crystal Palace back in October, 12 matches ago. That had certainly become a big concern for the Black Country outfit, with just four sides in the league having conceded more goals. It was also a huge reason as to why they had slipped worryingly close to the relegation zone.
That poor run is now over though with an extremely welcome clean sheet being earned. Despite Chelsea enjoying the majority of the ball, Wolves never looked too badly threatened due to an impressive and disciplined defensive showing. Returning to the back three that had served them so well in the past, the visitors looked a lot more comfortable and they were extremely good value for their point and of course shutout.
Chelsea: Mendy (6); Chilwell (6) (Pulisic (N/A), 76′), Silva (7), Rudiger (6), Azpilicueta (6); Jorginho (6), Kovacic (6), Havertz (6); Hudson-Odoi (7), Ziyech (5) (Mount (N/A), 83′), Giroud (6) (Abraham (N/A), 77′).
Wolverhampton Wanderers: Patricio (6); Coady (7), Kilman (7), Boly (6); Ait-Nouri (6) (Hoever (6), 45′), Neves (6), Dendoncker (6), Semedo (6); Traore (6) (Moutinho (N/A), 90′), Podence (5) (Jose (6), 72′), Neto (6).
Referee: Andrew Madley
Yellow Cards: Neto (51′), Chilwell (62′)
Red Cards: N/A